Pomona College is ranked tenth in the nation among the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. It’s one of few liberal arts colleges on the West Coast and part of the Claremont College Consortium. The consortium includes five schools, all on adjacent campuses, and two graduate schools. The 5C community, as the students affectionately call it, shares resources including a university-sized research library. The consortium arrangement also has the advantage of offering students abundant academic, extracurricular, and social opportunities; students can eat, live, and take classes on all five campuses.
Students at Pomona find several advantages to belonging to the 5C community. An obvious perk is small class sizes; class enrollment caps are in place to help manage the school’s commitment to personalized attention. Only a handful of classes are over 50 students, and many have enrollment in single digits. The consortium arrangement allows students and professors to develop personal relationships that are conducive to creating strong community. Professors proactively initiate getting to know students, which helps students network for research and internship options. Those looking to be another anonymous face on campus would not want to consider Pomona.
The Pomona College campus is located in Claremont, California just east of Los Angeles. The suburban setting of a major metropolis is a draw for students looking for the excitement of the big city tempered with the quiet of the suburbs. With the consortium’s unique configuration of five adjacent campuses, it is difficult to distinguish one from the other except for the distinctive architectural differences. Pomona College draws its beautiful Spanish architectural design from the same person who designed Stanford’s campus.
Nearly two-thirds of the diverse student body is from outside California, and about one-third are students of color. This is a direct result of Pomona College’s recruiting program that reaches out to talented students from underrepresented groups. Students describe themselves as laid-back, unpretentious, liberal thinkers. Many actively participate in sharing their ideas and opinions on the student blog, Voices.
Although students won’t find stadiums packed with thousands of fans, this NCAA Division three consortium of schools boasts two separate and complete athletic programs. Pomona and Pitzer form one athletic program, and Claremont, Harvey-Mudd, and Scripps comprise the other. Two of every sporting venue and facility means there is always something going on for sports enthusiasts. The Sagehen’s football rivalry with Occidental goes back over 100 years, making it one of the oldest rivalries on the West Coast.
Campus life is reflective of the laid-back attitude for which California is known. Pomona College consistently ranks high in student satisfaction. (The free snacks four nights per week don’t hurt!) In fact, students have stolen the phrase ‘the happiest place on earth’ from Disneyland, and applied it to their campus. The Coop, the college hangout that is open nights, gives students a chance to congregate. The college also takes advantage of their Southern California location, often inviting big-name bands, singers, comedians and guest lecturers to campus. Weekend nights may include movie night, In-n-Out Burger night, spa night, casino night, or other relaxing outlets for busy students.
The Village is a neighborhood hotspot of shops, music stores, theaters, restaurants and the occasional bed and breakfast near campus. It offers students a reprieve from college life with an array of entertainment as well as the opportunity for part-time jobs. A short drive away, Pasadena provides students with movie theaters, markets, restaurants, and concert venues. Los Angeles gives students a vibrant club scene where IDs are routinely checked, museums, and world-class concerts and sporting events. The mountains are a place for students to get away for some quiet time in nature either hiking or snow skiing, and Orange County offers everything from Disneyland to baseball to stunniing beaches. If students are bored at Pomona College, they just aren’t paying attention.
Like many colleges, Pomona College has its own quirky traditions. Walker Wall is a 200-foot long cement wall that traditionally has been used as a student forum where students can post messages and self-expressions. In 1964, a pair of Pomona College students devised a tongue-in-cheek theory that the number 47 is expressed in nature more than any other number; students continue to search for and compile examples today. One of the favorite traditions among students is the annual Ski-Beach Day. In the morning, students go snow skiing in the mountains at Mountain High Resort an hour from campus. In the afternoon, they lounge on nearby Newport Beach along the Pacific Ocean.
Students who are committed to excellence, independent thinkers, and dedicated to following their passions while making the world a better place may have found their home at Pomona College in sunny California.
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By Colleen Hill